Dancing Sunflowers Make Me Happy

Dancing Sunflowers Make Me Happy

I wasn’t going to write today, but I got excited about my finished painting and just had to share it. My first watercolor painting in 2 years, using layered washes and in a 9″x12″ size (bigger than a notecard). It seems after a drought of this kind in my creative process what I want to paint are flowers.

sunflowersPhoto

I took this photo of these sunflowers probably a year ago, printed it several months ago, and started dreaming about painting it at least a month ago. I finally did it this week.

Since it had been so long since I had done any real watercolors I wasn’t sure how the process would go. I did a lot of testing colors on scratch paper to find the right combo for the transparent layers. I had forgotten that watercolors are not a hurry-up thing, well I knew it, but I didn’t remember just how long one can wait between layers. Each layer needs to dry before you add another layer and so there is lots of time to work on other projects while I wait. I tried using a blow dryer in the past, however, you run the risk of spreading paint where you don’t want it and it’s not worth the risk. So patience is a virtue when it comes to this process.  And I am willing to wait because the layering of color with transparent watercolors is magical and I love creating this way.

So I finished it yesterday and I am pretty happy with it. It reminds me of Spring and warmer days, and a friend said it looks like the flowers are dancing. I love that! So I have called it Dancing Sunflowers. I think I will stick with flowers for a while, they make me happy and people enjoy them. Spreading some cheer is a good niche to fall into.

Have a Happy Day

Cheryl

We will figure it out

We will figure it out

It’s Saturday, it has been an illuminating week. It’s also been earth-shattering in the “now what?” category. The jobs I have been getting consistently the last couple of years are fading from existence which seems to be another sign that my renewed path to make art seems to be right. I don’t make as much per job in art yet, but I do make sales regularly. I am not depending on Etsy yet, but I do see the potential. And if I count it all up it is a decent wage, so even though losing a bigger job is scary on the outset, it also gives me the time and money I would have spent in preparation for it to use on other things. When transitions in my life happen, it always seems to take me a little time to think things through and to not panic. I have gotten all my chores done today and I plan to spend the rest of the day in the studio. And that is one sure way to make me happy.

It seems that many people are going through big life transitions these days. Finding our way through these times of economic, political, and planetary uncertainty really affects us all. We are all in this together and we will create a new world experience because we are adaptable and filled with creative energy.

I hope you have a happy day. I am planning on it.

Cheryl

 

Leap and the Net Will Appear

Leap and the Net Will Appear

Or you will fall on your face…

Do you believe in signs? Those synchronicities that happen in your life, and when they happen almost daily do you pay attention and follow along? Someone told me once if you hear something from one person, it might be interesting, if you hear it from 2 maybe you should pay attention and if you hear from more than 3 it’s time to consider the idea.

I stopped painting a couple of years ago, in fact, I stopped making art and decided to work as a commercial photographer only.  I don’t remember all the reasons,  but the main one was that I didn’t know how to broaden my market from where I live. I was selling, but people kept telling me they were out of wall space. Since then I have learned a lot about marketing and about the idea that everyone doesn’t have to want what you are selling. You just have to find the right niche and you can make a difference.

I am a big fan of Seth Godin, I read his blog daily and listen to his podcasts. He has inspired me to think about the possibility that I can do what I love and I can make a difference. Well, I love making art, I love selling art, and I  love sharing with artists ways to do what we love to do. So Why should I stop doing those things? Right?

Anyway back to the signs

One. People tell me they miss my watercolors. Ok yes, I miss doing them.

Two. A friend GIVES me many brand new tubes of quality watercolors and lot’s of really beautiful watercolor paper and tells me, ” I know you will make beautiful things from these.” WOW

Three through 37. My hand-painted valentines sold like hotcakes! I sold them in person, on Facebook, Instagram, and Etsy.

And 38 was the instigator of yesterday’s blog.

So yesterday I started a new watercolor. It was actually kind of scary. I knew I would not be to the level I was 2 years ago, but so far I am pleased with the progress. Putting that brush to the paper for a painting somehow seemed different than doing a 4×6 illustrated graphic style greeting card. Making something that is Realistic is a whole different level of stress from doing an Abstract. So why do Realistic art instead of Abstract? I think it is the challenge and skill development has more meaning to me.

Anyway, I am now on my way and although I know I will still need to do the commercial work to stay afloat, I am doing what I used to be the best at, (if not the best, I was getting close). My goal is now to be the best and to be happy doing and sharing what I am passionate about. And that is making art.

So thank you to the Universe for sending me all the signals and to those who were involved in the process. And to Seth Godin for actually convincing me that it was possible to really do what I love to do. And hopefully, I won’t fall on my face.

As Seth would say. ” Go Make a Ruckus!”

Have a happy day

Cheryl

Cheryl McDonald is an artist living in the high desert in California. You can purchase many of her cards, prints and originals  at cheryl mcdonald-art.com

What Makes You the Best?

What Makes You the Best?

And how do you measure that? And how do you only do that and nothing else?

I went to a networking meeting last night, and the question of the evening was What are you the best at? We were talking about skills and talents and how to promote yourself. Choosing one thing that you do that you do better than other people that you can promote about yourself and your business. I was the focus of the conversation because I could not choose one thing. I said it depends on the day… Now in my head I know this is the wrong answer, how do you promote that? It’s impossible and yet that is the way I have lived my life as an artist. Whatever you need, I can do it and I make it my business to be very good at doing it. I learned years ago that the way to stay afloat was to just say yes and then figure it out.

However, I must say this is not the optimum way to live because I am always buying new equipment, learning new skills and never getting paid as much as I’m worth because I am “learning”. You can’t earn a living that way.

What I also learned last night was that if you ask 3 people what you are the best at, the answers you get are going to be based on not only their own focus but also their perceptions of what they know about you. I was a little surprised at the answers because I would not have thought that those skills were what I was best at.

Personally, I would have to say that I am very good at adapting, that is probably one of my strongest skills. Is that a skill to base a business on? I don’t think so. Yes, it is an important skill to have, however, it is not the skill you list on your business card or use in your elevator speech: ” Hi, I’m Cheryl and I am very good at adapting.”  I just have to laugh at myself here.

So now I need to think about this question and even though I have thought about it before and think I have an answer and start promoting that answer, it always changes, because the work that comes is something else and rent and food are real and important, and so I do that for a while. I have often read that this is not the way to do business and I would love to focus on one profession, but how does one do that in a small town? I think this is what has led me to really put some energy into my online store. So that I can then focus on what I really am the best at and not what feeds the moment. I may have to tighten my belt for a while and not take jobs willy nilly. I guess I need to trust my best and what the gurus say ” Do the work and the money will come”

Do you know what you’re the best at?  And how did you figure that out? Asking for a friend…

Have a happy day!

Cheryl

Cheryl McDonald is an artist living in the high desert in California. You can purchase many of her cards, prints and originals  at cheryl mcdonald-art.com

It’s Tuesday, Thank you, Abe and George, for Monday off!

It’s Tuesday, Thank you, Abe and George, for Monday off!

When I headed for the mountains with friends there were reports of probable snow and cold weather. So the 3 of us were all bundled up and in a Jeep, ready for anything! When we got up to the 5000 ft level, there were a few spots of snow on the ground and ominous clouds all around. We were on our way to Kernville for the annual Whiskey Flats Western celebration. I had not been in a very long time and had no idea what to expect.

Well, we had a really relaxed and fun day. Yes, there were snow clouds on all the mountains all around us, however, it was sunny and cool but very comfortable. We walked around town and over by the river where the authentic western encampment was set up. That was the only place I took pictures really, beautiful clouds and blue sky, just made everything beautiful.

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We had some lunch at a great Italian restaurant and wandered back home late afternoon. At one point on our way home we had to stop for pictures, the mountains were covered with new snow and there were teeny tiny snowflakes falling on the windshield! We got so excited you would have thought we had never seen snow before. I can tell you that folks who live in the desert get very excited about any kind of precipitation! It is rare and wonderful.

It was a great day and I felt rejuvenated and ready to start a new project on Sunday.

I have been wanting to paint my kitchen pantry with chalk paint for a couple of years now. Had the paint already, just needed to get on with it. So Sunday morning bright and early, I got started. I got 2 coats on fairly easily and then I had to wait for the paint to cure overnight so I could apply the wax. Monday was Wax Day. A coat of clear and a coat of dark and it is rubbed on and then off, just like in the Karate Kid. It was way more work than the painting part! Anyway, I did get it done, added some new hardware and I am very excited to have finally completed this. Now I just need new flooring, but that is for another day!

So now it’s Tuesday and I am back to work on art and design projects. Feeling more relaxed and motivated. Getting out and seeing new scenery and laughing with friends is really the best medicine for clearing my head and lightening my heart.

Hope you had a great weekend. Have a happy week.

Cheryl

Switching hats is not always easy

Switching hats is not always easy

I have been wearing my geek hat a lot lately, figuring out online marketing, illustrating for a specific audience- hand-painted valentines- which were very successful, I must say. But now it’s time to think about other card holidays and other projects that require more creativity and I am struggling to get back into my painter and creator hat.

I also have commercial clients that need me to think about marketing strategies and upcoming photography gigs that will require a different set of skills. Very often I think how much easier my life would be if I would just pick one career path! But here is the deal, when you live in a small town and you have lot’s of skills, if you want to make a living as a creative rather then pushing papers full-time and art part-time, you learn to adapt. You take the gigs and do the enjoyable work and then move on to the next. AND you find time to make art that satisfies your soul in between.  I find that each skill and medium I work in feed the others and makes me have to learn to switch hats quickly. But sometimes I just need to breathe, to get out and take in the landscape and surroundings and forget about all of it.

Today we have snow on our mountains here on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada, and I am heading out to enjoy a day with friends. Yes, I will bring a camera and no I will not think about marketing. Pure enjoyment.

Happy Saturday, hope you have an enjoyable day.

If You Want Different Results, Guess What You Have to Do.

If You Want Different Results, Guess What You Have to Do.

I confess I am a serial entrepreneur. Not the kind that goes from one successful business to the next, but the kind that knows what I would like to do but just not being able to find the right combination of components to make it happen.

I am an artist and creator, and I have taught myself design, marketing and many other aspects of being in business either through taking classes, online webinars, coaches or just trial and error. I have had a brick and mortar stores/galleries, websites, been part of cooperatives and consignment stores and yet, finding the right combination has eluded me. One would think I should give up, but not me! I know my product is good I have just not found the perfect way to get it to enough people to make a living on it. Don’t get me wrong, I make sales, and over the years I have made lot’s of them, enough to stay afloat, just not enough to call myself a success.

This last year I decided that my missing pieces might be not having a big enough audience and also not having a product that was useful and renewable.  I have done a lot of thinking and observation about how and why people shop these days, and I realized that even though I have been on the right track, there are things I can do to change it up to get different results. Some of the changes I am making are creative and some of them are operational and even though it’s only February, I can see that these changes are making a difference.

First I expanded my greeting card lines. I have sold cards for many years created from my art and love the idea that my art gets sent across the world from one to another. It’s a way to share the love and each small sale spreads my work to audiences I could never reach on my own. I started noticing that cards were becoming more and more popular and that this trend was on the rise. This article I found in December backed up my observation. “Greeting Cards Aren’t Going Anywhere”

The second thing was that I needed an online store. We all do more and more of our shopping online and I decided I needed to take Etsy.com seriously. To learn to use it and to make my presence there a viable online art and stationery shop. So even though I have had a page there since 2014, I did not take the time to learn what works and to figure out how customers find me there. Let me tell you it is just as much work to have an online store as it is to have a shop in town!

The third thing I am doing is finding the right ways to reach the customers who will want what I make.

All of this takes a lot of research, trial, and error, and making tweaks here and there until suddenly it works. And I am seeing progress which makes me happy. It is important to have a mix of personal connection and digital connection, giving people options, finding ways to meet their needs. And making art that not only expresses me but art that inspires and is appreciated by my customers. I don’t have to please everyone and that makes expanding sales across the web makes it easier to find your tribe and build a broader base.

So my advice to you is, if you have a dream that just won’t let you go, please don’t give up. Keep searching. What’s right for one entrepreneur is not always right for everyone else. Follow your heart and your gut and never give up. The world needs what you do, just as I know the world needs what I do as well. So watch Youtube, read blogs, take classes and webinars, and talk to people who work in similar areas of practice. Most entrepreneurs are open to sharing. But the biggest thing is to keep working at it. You will get it and it will be a fulfilling and rewarding journey.

If you are looking for unique cards, custom stationery (soon to be added) or beautiful art in photography and watercolor, visit my shop on cherylmcdonald-art.com

Thanks for Reading

Cheryl